Democratic National Convention news and discussion thread

The Democratic National Convention opens tonight in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a tightly-packed schedule of speakers. Broadcast television networks will show only the last hour of prime-time speeches: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Congressional candidate Joaquin Castro of Texas, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Elaine Brye (a “military mother with four children serving in different branches of the armed forces”), and First Lady Michelle Obama.

O’Malley and several other possible future Democratic candidates for president are meeting with Iowa’s delegation in Charlotte this week. Details and other convention-related news are after the jump.

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Weekend open thread and news from Iowa's Congressional delegation

All five Iowans in the U.S. House are co-sponsoring a bill that would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “to revise the Missouri River Master Manual to increase the total amount of storage space within the Missouri River Reservoir System that is allocated for flood control.” After the jump I’ve posted more details on that bill and other news about the Iowans in Congress.

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DNC confirms Iowa caucuses will be first in 2012

The Democratic National Committee voted today to keep the Iowa caucuses the first presidential nominating contest in 2012, according to Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Norm Sterzenbach, who’s attending the DNC meeting.

I’ll update this post with more details as they become available. In July, the DNC Rules Committee approved the following calendar: Iowa caucuses on February 6, 2012; New Hampshire primary on February 14; Nevada caucuses on February 18; and South Carolina primary on February 28. All other Democratic nominating contests would occur in March or later. The Republican National Committee has adopted a calendar keeping Iowa first as well.

Any thoughts about the 2012 caucuses are welcome in this thread.

Iowa Democrats, mark your calendars for February 6, 2012

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules Committee has recommended Monday, February 6, 2012 as the date for the next Iowa caucuses, according to Iowa Democratic Party executive director Norm Sterzenbach, who attended the meeting. The same body recommended February 14 for the New Hampshire primary, February 18 for the Nevada caucuses and February 28 for the South Carolina primary. All other Democratic nominating contests would occur in March or later.

Although we are unlikely to have real competition on the Democratic side in 2012, it’s good precedent to start the presidential nominating process in February rather than January. Having to knock on doors and phonebank between Christmas 2007 and New Year’s Day 2008 was insane.

The big question is how many states will try to jump ahead of the early states. The DNC rules committee recommends that states violating the proposed calendar would lose half of their delegates. The Republican Party adopted similar sanctions before the 2008 campaign, which didn’t deter Florida and Michigan from holding their primaries “too early.”

The 2010 Iowa caucuses were held on a Saturday afternoon, but off-year caucuses always have light attendance. A Saturday afternoon caucus in a presidential year was never likely, because observant Jews would be unable to participate.

I would like to see more reforms to the Iowa Democratic caucus process, including an absentee ballot option for shift workers who can’t get the night off or voters who are housebound. In Maine, Democrats can participate in the caucuses by absentee ballot.

Hawaii Special election FACTS. Don't believe the Hype


 As I was logging off my computer late last night, I happen to stumble upon a bunch of congratulatory tweets to Rep.-Elect Charles Djou whom won a special election to replace frm. Rep. Neil Ambercrombie who is seeking to win the Governorship for the Democratic party.

What was different about this special election compared to the previous 7 congressional elections, was that the Republican candidate won. Tweets ranging from local Iowans congratulating Charles Djou like Don Mcdowell to national republicans like former Governor Sarah Palin.

Many republicans already are touting a victory and defeat for President Obama after all, neil abercrombie had been life-long friends with Pres. Obama and this was the district in which he was born in.

 I had to look up the reasons why we failed to win this election. There is now way that Charles Djou defeated the democrat in a fair race unless there was some special circumstances. The republican party in Hawaii is as insignificant as the Libertarian/Green party in this country. Charles is now only the 3rd republican to hold high office in that state since statehood.


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Iowa likely to go first again in 2012 presidential race

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee met yesterday in Washington and approved a proposed calendar for the 2012 presidential nominating process. The DemRulz blog noted that the calendar “tracks the DNC Change Commission recommendations,” which state that all primaries and caucuses must be held in March 2012 or later, except for Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, which may schedule their nominating contests in February 2012. In a statement released to the media, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Michael Kiernan hailed the vote as “another important step” that “will help us ensure that Iowa is First-in-the-Nation once again.”

The Republican National Committee has moved toward a similar calendar in 2012, with the same four states allowed to schedule primaries or caucuses in February, and all other states allowed to go beginning March 1. The final calendar may not reflect the RNC’s wishes, though; some states may try to jump ahead the way Florida and Michigan did in 2008.

I suspect Iowa’s representatives will have to fight hard to maintain our early position for the 2016 campaign. Democrats in several larger states resent the outsized influence of Iowa and New Hampshire, which are small and predominantly white. The calendar doesn’t matter much on the Democratic side for 2012, because it’s unlikely anyone will challenge Barack Obama for the nomination, but the next cycle will certainly be competitive, whether or not Obama wins a second term.

Derek Eadon will direct the Iowa Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign

The Iowa Democratic Party announced today that Derek Eadon has begun working as the director for the 2010 “coordinated campaign,” the Democrats’ main voter turnout operation. From an IDP press release:

Derek will oversee the Coordinated Campaign, which will focus heavily on organizing the grassroots, from volunteer coordination to get-out the vote-programs.

“My job is to build on the organization already put into place by the Iowa Democratic Party so that Democrats win here in November. I am confident we can do that and I am eager to get the Coordinated Campaign underway,” said Eadon.

Eadon is a 2006 Coordinated Campaign veteran, working as a field organizer in the Cedar Rapids area. He then became the first field organizer hired in Iowa for President Obama’s campaign, and he worked for the Obama campaign throughout the 2008 election. Prior to this, Eadon was the Iowa State Director for Organizing for America.

I wish Eadon every success in his work, and I hope this year’s coordinated campaign is as successful as the 2006 turnout operation. The Iowa Democratic Party did an excellent job that year of focusing on Democratic voters who were unreliable for off-year elections. Although the Obama campaign had an excellent field operation before the Iowa caucuses, I was critical of letting the Obama campaign take over the 2008 coordinated campaign, and I felt the down-ticket gains weren’t as strong as they could have been. (I wasn’t alone.) I do credit the Obama campaign for its focus on early voting in 2008; that saved several Democratic seats in the state legislature. A strong absentee ballot drive also helped Curt Hanson win last year’s special election in Iowa House district 90.

Even the best turnout operation is no substitute for having this state’s leaders deliver on issues of importance to the Democratic base. But that’s a topic for another post.

Speaking of GOTV, John Morgan argued persuasively at the Pennsylvania Progressive blog that Organizing for America is a poor substitute for the 50-state strategy the Democratic National Committee carried out under Howard Dean’s leadership.  

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

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Lots of links for a snowy day

Many Iowans will be leaving work or school early today, or perhaps not going in at all, as the season’s first big winter blast rolls in. Here’s plenty of reading to keep you busy if you are stuck at home.

Global news first: The United National Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen opened yesterday. To follow news from the proceedings, I’m reading the team of Mother Jones bloggers in Copenhagen. The Open Left blog will also post regular updates from Natasha Chart and Friends of the Earth staff who are on the ground. If you prefer a mainstream media perspective, check out The Climate Pool on Facebook, which is a collaboration among major news organizations.

Also on Monday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson signed off on two findings that will pave the way to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act. This action follows from a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA. More background and details can be found on the EPA’s site. Environment Iowa explains the significance of the EPA’s action here. An expert panel surveyed by Grist disagreed on whether the EPA’s “endangerment finding” would affect the Copenhagen talks.

The most important reason I oppose the current draft bills on climate change kicking around Congress is that they would revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide. Chris Bowers explains why that would be disastrous here.

Uganda is considering a horrific law that would subject homosexuals to long prison terms or even the death penalty. One Iowa is collecting signatures on a petition to Senator Chuck Grassley, asking him to speak out against this law. Grassley’s never going to be a gay rights advocate, but he should agree that criminalizing homosexuality is wrong. Grassley is involved with “The Family,” which is connected to the proposed bill in Uganda.

On the economic front, President Obama is expected to announce plans to use about $200 billion allocated for the Wall Street bailout to fund a jobs bill Congress will consider soon.. The Hill previewed some of the measures that may end up in that bill.

Some economists who met with Governor Chet Culver yesterday think Iowa has already reached the bottom of this recession. I hope they are right, but either way, policy-makers should listen to their ideas for reforming Iowa’s budget process. I’ll write a separate post on this important development soon. Here is the short take:

The state could base its spending on a multi-year average, such as the previous three years, or five years or seven years, said Jon Muller, president of Muller Consulting Inc., a public policy and business development consulting firm based in Des Moines.

“The way it’s always worked, when times are really good, we increase spending and we cut taxes,” Muller said. “And when times are bad, there’s pressure to increase taxes and decrease spending. And that all happens when the demand for government is at its highest,” Muller said.

The multi-year idea would flip, he said.

“In good times you would be squirreling money at way a little at a time. And in bad times, you could continue to increase spending to service the growing demands of a recession.”

It would require state lawmakers to not touch the reserves, even in times of plenty. But it would also reduce the need to tap into reserves just to get by during rainy days, the advisers said.

Regarding budget cuts, the Newton Independent reports here on a “plan to reorganize the Iowa Department of Human Services operations under two deputy directors, six rather than nine divisions, five rather than eight service areas, more part-time offices and the elimination of 78 currently vacant positions” (hat tip to Iowa Independent). Click this link for more details about the proposed restructuring.

On the political front, John Deeth analyzes possible changes the Democratic National Committee is considering for the presidential nomination process. Jerome Armstrong had a good idea the DNC won’t implement: ban caucuses everywhere but Iowa. No other state derives the party-building benefits of caucuses, but just about every state that uses caucuses for presidential selection has lower voter participation than would occur in a primary.

I haven’t written much on health care reform lately, because recent developments are so depressing. Our best hope was using the budget reconciliation process to pass a strong bill in the Senate with 51 votes (or 50 plus Joe Biden). Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has taken reconciliation off the table, we’re left with a variety of bad compromises to get to 60 votes in the Senate. I am not convinced the final product will be any improvement over the status quo. It will certainly be worse for millions of Americans required to buy overpriced private health insurance. If there’s a quicker way to neutralize the Democrats’ advantage with young voters, I don’t know what it is.

Speaking of health care reform, Steve Benen wrote a good piece about Grassley’s latest grandstanding on the issue.

Speaking of things that are depressing, John Lennon was shot dead 29 years ago today.  Daily Kos user noweasels remembers him and that night. Although Paul’s always been my favorite Beatle, I love a lot of John’s work too. Here’s one of his all-time best:

Share any relevant thoughts or your own favorite Lennon songs in the comments.

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Three Iowans gain new posts at DNC

I received this news release from the Iowa Democratic Party on September 11:

DES MOINES — Longtime Democratic activist Jan Bauer of Ames is one of 75 new at-large members of the Democratic National Committee following a vote Friday at the party’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas.  Bauer also will serve on the DNC Resolutions Committee.

Other appointments Friday included: Sandy Opstvedt of Story City to the the Resolutions Committee, and Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan to the Rules and Bylaws Committee.  In addition, members re-elected Opsvedt to the DNC executive committee.

Kiernan’s post is expected to give him important clout in protecting Iowa’s first in the nation caucuses. “We have a stronger Iowa delegation than at any time in memory,” Kiernan said Friday.  “This is great for Iowa Democrats and for our state.”

Iowans serving on the Democratic National Committee are Bauer, Kiernan, Opstvedt, Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, State Sen. Michael Gronstal, Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston, Sue Dvorsky and Leroy Williams.

Since last November’s election, I haven’t worried at all about Iowa’s place in the nominating process. As long as Barack Obama is president, I don’t think he will let the DNC allow any state to jump ahead of Iowa. For what it’s worth, I don’t think any number of influential Iowans could have saved our first-in-the-nation status if Obama had lost to John McCain.

I’m more concerned about reforms that would improve the integrity of the caucus process and the ability of interested voters to participate. I also would like to see changes to the rules allocating pledged delegates, so that in 2016 one candidate won’t be able to net as many pledged delegates from, say, winning the Wyoming caucuses as another candidate nets from, say, winning the Ohio primary by 10 percent.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

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Patrick Dillon will be the White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs

President-elect Barack Obama has appointed Patrick Dillon to be the White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs, according to an Iowa Democratic Party press release on January 16.

The news completes Dillon’s transition from one-half of an Iowa power couple to one-half of a Washington power couple. Dillon managed Chet Culver’s gubernatorial campaign in 2006 and served as the governor’s chief of staff until a few days ago.

Dillon’s wife, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, directed John Edwards’ presidential campaign in Iowa and then served as battleground states director for Barack Obama’s campaign before Obama chose her to be the new executive director of the Democratic National Committee.

Jennifer O'Malley Dillon will be the DNC's executive director

Congratulations to Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who according to the Washington Post is President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be the new executive director of the Democratic National Committee. She will be “running the party’s day-to-day operations, including fundraising.”

The job is particularly important because Obama’s pick for DNC chairman, Tim Kaine, still has a year to serve as governor of Virginia and presumably won’t be a hands-on manager at the DNC.

Many Iowans know O’Malley Dillon from her work on John Edwards’ presidential campaigns. She worked in field before the 2004 caucuses and was Edwards’ Iowa campaign director before the 2008 caucuses. After Edwards left the presidential race, she became the director of battleground states strategy for Obama’s campaign.

O’Malley Dillon is married to Patrick Dillon, whom she met while both worked on Edwards’ first presidential campaign here. Patrick Dillon later managed Chet Culver’s gubernatorial campaign and became the governor’s chief of staff.

Anyone have any idea who’s likely to replace Dillon at Terrace Hill?

Here’s O’Malley Dillon’s Facebook page, for those who are into that kind of thing.

Regarding the news that Obama wants Kaine as DNC chairman, Bob Brigham made some persuasive arguments against the choice, while Jonathan Singer was “more than content with the pick.” Singer noted,

in recent years the DNC Chairmanship has been split into two posts while the Democrats have controlled the White House, with a dignitary serving as General Chairman and a strategist running the day-to-day operations of the committee. Under Bill Clinton, this strategy predominated, with Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, Colorado Governor Roy Romer and then-former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell serving as General Chairmen — the spokesmen of the party — while others were left to handle the details. Indeed, this appears to be the thinking of Obama in tapping Kaine, also choosing the director of his battleground state strategy, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, to run the committee’s operations.

Kaine wouldn’t be my first, second or third choice to run the DNC, but if Obama wants him there no one is going to stop him. The Virginia Democratic bloggers who know his record are not fans (a few links are in this post). I’d much rather have Kaine at the DNC than as vice president, though. I’m relieved Obama passed him over for that job.

O’Malley Dillon is highly capable and makes me feel better about the future management of the DNC.

My main concern is that the committee not abandon the 50-state strategy after Howard Dean leaves. Washington insiders attacked Dean for sending organizers to red states in 2005, but that strategy contributed significantly to Democratic gains in Congress in 2006 and 2008.

UPDATE: At Century of the Common Iowan, noneed4thneed observes that O’Malley Dillon’s appointment “probably solidifies the Iowa Cacuses’s first in the nation status.”

SECOND UPDATE: Marc Ambinder’s take on what this means:

O’Malley-Dillon is seen by the team as a manager with an organizational background that appeals to Obama.  She is large measure responsible for Sen. John Edwards’s solid caucus performances in 2004 and 2008.  She was recruited by Steve Hilderband to join Obama’s campaign as battleground states director and spent the general election overseeing state field budgets and figuring out where to send the principals.

The DNC will retain traditional responsibilities, like planning the convention and political research. But it will significantly expand its campaign organizing capacity and probably its staff; think of it as current DNC chairman Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy on steroids.

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Palin speech/GOP convention open thread

I won’t be watching in prime time, but I plan to watch the repeat of Sarah Palin’s speech on C-SPAN later. I expect her to bring the house down in St. Paul. Those delegates are her kind of Republican.

Chatter away about what you’ve seen and heard today. I will update later.

UPDATE: I hope John McCain runs his new Obama/Palin comparison ad in every swing state:

MSNBC’s First Read has already fact-checked this ad:

It’s important to note that there are a few misleading assertions in the ad. For one, the “Journal” that’s cited is the conservative and partisan Wall Street Journal editorial page. Two, to call Obama the Senate’s most liberal senator is dubious. (The charge comes from the National Journal ranking Obama as having the most liberal Senate voting record of 2007, but he was nowhere near the top in 2005 and 2006; it’s also worth noting that Obama missed many Senate votes in 2007, so that ranking is a bit skewed.) And three, the charge that Obama “gave big oil billions in subsidies and giveaways” is misleading. (According to nonpartisan fact-checkers, the 2005 energy bill the McCain camp is referring to actual resulted in a net tax INCREASE on oil companies.)

Speaking of fact checks, First Read notes that Mike Huckabee was wrong to assert in his RNC speech that Sarah Palin received more votes running for mayor of Wasilla than Joe Biden received running for president. First Read says nearly 80,000 Americans voted for Biden for president.

I suspect that estimate is low. Probably somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of Iowa Democrats stood up for Biden at their precinct caucuses, although he only ended up with 1 percent of the delegates because of the 15 percent viability threshold. Also, Biden was not on the ballot in Michigan, but presumably some of those “uncommitted” voters preferred him.

The Democratic National Committee launched a fun website called JustMoreoftheSame.com. Check it out.

SECOND UPDATE: Democratic bloggers seem divided on whether Palin gave a great speech (to the audience she was trying to reach) or whether she was boring.

Josh Marshall had this to say about Rudy:

You’ll notice that Rudy Giuliani apparently ran too long and they had to drop the Palin mini-movie that was supposed to introduce her speech. Normally people get fired for goofs like that. They didn’t want Rudy’s blood and iron speech the day after Gustav so they bumped it until tonight. Big mistake. He positively dripped with a kind of curdled anger, the origin of which is difficult to grasp. But he actually seemed to get angrier and angrier as the speech progressed — off chopping his hands around, baring his teeth. I know the people in the hall loved it. But I think a lot of people will see it as whacked. Rancid. Curdled. Palin’s speech ended up being much more partisan than I expected. But that was added to by the fact that she had to start her speech while the auditorium was still awash in the teeth-gnashing froth ginned up by Rudy’s speech.

THIRD UPDATE: I caught most of the repeat of Rudy’s speech. I cannot imagine that helped McCain with anyone but the most hard-core Republicans. Talk about mean-spirited. All those loud “boos” from the audience made the crowd seem mean as well. And it was surreal to see Hizzoner from New York make fun of Obama for being too cosmopolitan. I agree with RF–if millions of Americans caught that speech while tuning in to see Palin, Obama will benefit.

Also, it was bizarre to have the camera cutting to Cindy McCain holding baby Trig during Rudy’s speech. Most young infants don’t like being passed around and held by total strangers.

FOURTH UPDATE: Mr. desmoinesdem and I watched the repeat of Palin. She did a lot better than Rudy, obviously. I’m sure she generated a lot of enthusiasm among the GOP base. We have no idea how that speech sounded to a typical undecided voter. Some of her culture war language and criticism of Obama sounded a little petty to me, but I’m obviously not the target audience. She lied again about opposing the Bridge to Nowhere, but will she get called on that? The visuals at the end of her holding baby Trig with the rest of her family on stage were great.

I think Obama and Biden should ignore her and focus their fire on McCain.

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Open thread: Al Gore and Barack Obama at Invesco Field

Chatter away about tonight’s big events.

I love the Republican whining about Shawn Johnson reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic convention. She’s not giving a political speech, she’s saying the pledge! Anyway, the more they complain, the more people will tune in to watch 75,000 Democrats go crazy over the Pledge of Allegiance.

Good for Shawn for taking this step, even though it could very well cost her some endorsements.

UPDATE: Democracy for America is phone-banking tonight (I got a call shortly after 7 pm). Smart move–a whole lot of Democrats are going to be at home in front of their television sets.

Bill Richardson: John McCain may pay hundreds of dollars for his shoes, but we’re the ones who will pay for his flip-flops.

SECOND UPDATE: Switched to C-SPAN an hour ago because I couldn’t take the inane punditry. Whose idea was it to have a parade of retired generals and ordinary people speak after Al Gore? Gore should have been the last speaker before Obama.

THIRD UPDATE: I was distracted by my kids and didn’t realize that Wesley Clark was one of the retired generals who stood on stage, but he was not allowed to say a word. That is atrocious. He is a good speaker, and the Obama campaign is running scared. That’s why the right-wing noise machine went after Clark last month–they wanted to make Obama afraid to use him.

FOURTH UPDATE: I only caught the last 15 minutes or so of Obama’s speech. I like this excerpt I read from earlier:

And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.”

Great visuals at the end with a packed stadium going wild. I have no idea what that country song was they played after Obama spoke, though.

Some commenters at Open Left pointed out that the Republicans picked a terrible week to have their convention. Monday is Labor Day, and a lot of Americans will have other things to do besides watch the RNC. Next Thursday is the opening night for the NFL, so McCain will deliver his acceptance speech opposite two nationally televised football games. I look forward to comparing the ratings for the GOP convention to our convention.

FIFTH UPDATE: The full text of Obama’s speech (as prepared) is after the jump.

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Democratic National Convention open thread

Hillary Clinton released her delegates earlier today and told them that they could vote their conscience, but she had voted for Barack Obama.

Later she urged the convention to nominate Obama by acclamation, which it did enthusiastically.

This is an open thread for discussing any of Wednesday’s speeches or other events at the convention. Bill Clinton and Joe Biden will be the prime-time highlights. (By the way, one of my neighbors has put her Biden for president yard sign back in front of her house. She is “fired up and ready to go,” as they say.)

After the jump I’ve posted the text of Governor Chet Culver’s remarks (as prepared) to the DNC yesterday. He focused on energy policy, which is certainly among my top 10 reasons for Americans to vote for Obama.

UDPATE: When Bill Kristol idiotically claimed last night that Hillary Clinton gave a weak endorsement of Obama, he noted that she hadn’t said Obama would be a good commander in chief.

Guess what? Today’s theme is national security, and Bill Clinton has already said,

“In Barack Obama, America will have the national security leadership we need. My fellow Democrats, I say to you Barack Obama is ready to lead America…”

Got that, Mr. Kristol?

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Highlights of Hillary's speech and DNC open thread

I forgot to put up an open thread on the convention last night and only watched Hillary Clinton on the web much later. What an powerful and moving speech. I cried, and I wasn’t even one of her supporters during the primaries.

What was your favorite part? Todd Beeton thought the Harriet Tubman reference (“Keep going!”) was “the moment of the night.”

The sound bites grabbed by most media were “No way, no how, no McCain” and her opening line: “I’m here as a proud mother, a proud Democrat, a proud Senator from New York, a proud American and a proud supporter of Barack Obama.”

I thought she did a great job acknowledging her supporters and then asking those who were considering John McCain whether they were in it only for her or for the people she fought for.

Saying it made sense for McCain and George Bush to be together in the Twin Cities next week, because it’s hard to tell them apart these days, was also a classic line.

Talking Points Memo put her whole speech on YouTube.

Talking Points Memo also found this hilarious “bizarro world” video of Republican hack Bill Kristol saying it was a “shockingly minimal endorsement” of Obama.

This is an open thread for your thoughts on Hillary Clinton, Chet Culver, or anyone else who spoke at the convention yesterday.

UPDATE: Here’s an interesting piece by DemFromCT on how Democratic convention viewership is way up compared to 2004.

Also, Dansac tells you what you probably already know: the mainstream media coverage of this convention is horrible. Better to watch all the speeches on C-SPAN or online.

Open thread on DNC and Obama in Davenport

Barack Obama held an invitation-only event in Davenport today and emphasized economic issues:

Obama noted that he was raised by a single mother who sometimes needed food stamps to feed her family. He said he and his wife, Michelle, needed scholarships to attend college.

He said Americans are worried about a souring economy, in which home values are sinking and good jobs are disappearing. He said he would use billions now being spent on the Iraq war to create new jobs rebuilding American highways, adding high-speed railroads and increasing renewable energy sources, such as wind farms.

Two Iowans are among the “everyday Americans” who will address the Democratic convention in Denver. Candi Schmieder from Marengo will speak today, and and Katherine Marcano from Cedar Rapids will speak tomorrow.

Governor Culver will also speak at the convention on Tuesday.

The DemConWatch blog has all the details you need about the convention speakers and agenda.

How much of the convention will you watch? Which speakers are you most anxious to hear?

Feel free to share your closing thoughts about the Olympics in this thread as well.

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton has the quote of the day, referring to the Republican ad trying to stoke resentment that Obama “passed her over”:

“I’m Hillary Clinton, and I do not approve that message.”

SECOND UPDATE: I forgot to mention that sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 pm central time tonight, Senator Tom Harkin is going to introduce former Republican Congressman Jim Leach at the DNC. Should be worth watching! Leach endorsed Obama earlier this month.

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Donate to the Obama campaign for a chance to win a trip to Denver

I corrected this post to note that this fundraising drive is for Barack Obama’s campaign, not the DNC. But you should give to the DNC as well!

Barack Obama is going to accept the Democratic nomination for president at Mile High Stadium in Denver in front of an estimated 75,000 people.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean sent out an e-mail today asking for donations to the DNC the Obama campaign, with an extra incentive backing up his fundraising pitch.

If you make a donation before midnight tomorrow, you could be part of a very special opportunity. Ten supporters who give before the July fundraising deadline will be selected for an all-expenses-paid trip to Denver. You’ll get to bring a guest, fly to Denver, spend a couple days at the convention, and meet Barack before his speech.

Donate today, and you could go Backstage with Barack:

Make a donation before the deadline


The full text of Dean’s e-mail is after the jump.

Remember that the Republican National Committee has been raising more money this year than the DNC and will be spending it on behalf of John McCain. It’s not enough for the Obama campaign to raise money–the DNC also has to be competitive in fundraising.

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$30 million used to be a lot of money

But last week the Wall Street Journal made a big deal about how Barack Obama supposedly “only” raised $30 million in June.

Today Obama’s campaign revealed that it raised $52 million in June, and the Democratic National Committee raised $22 million the same month. Obama apparently has about $72 million in cash on hand, while the DNC has about $20 million in cash on hand.

At Open Left, tremayne graphed Obama’s fundraising per month this year. February was his best month; he raised $55 million then.

John McCain raised about $22 million in June, but the Republican National Committee has crushed the DNC in fundraising this year, so if you combine the RNC and McCain numbers, their side has slightly more cash on hand.

But guess what? The average donation for Obama in June was $68. That means he has a ton of small donors who are not maxed out. In fact, only $2 million of the $52 million he raised is for the general election (in other words, came from people who had already maxed out at $2,300 for the primary).

I found this analysis by Jerome Armstrong intriguing:

I believe that Obama could have raised $100M in June if that’s what they wanted to do. In fact, there may have been plans to do just that too, but they changed. Notice that just $2M was raised for the GE by Obama, they certainly could have raised a ton more money there if they had wanted, for the GE, at least $20-30M, and combined with the $74M that was raised between Obama and DNC, over $100M.

So, either the Obama camp isn’t as committed to self-funding for the GE, and might still go the route of taking the $84M in public financing (unlikely); or they are holding off their donors to give for the GE later (there are accounts of projecting a $100M month in Sept); or the Obama camp will use July and August to raise big numbers for the GE, as the decision to opt-out was made on June 19th, late in the month for fundraising plans. It could be either of these last two it seems.

Certainly Obama will not take public financing for the general. But could his campaign be deliberately holding big general-election donations off until later this summer?

Reporting a $100 million haul this fall, at the height of the campaign, could hurt Republican morale and drive a lot of media coverage about the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans.

Maybe McCain will be forced to pick Mitt Romney for a running mate. He’s disliked by the Christian right but excellent at bringing in cash. Romney-skeptic Jeff Angelo is re-thinking the wisdom of this course for the GOP nominee.

Put your thoughts and suppositions about the presidential candidates’ fundraising in the comment thread.

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The Obama campaign is still brilliant at marketing

I haven’t written about Barack Obama’s statement on the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, which the campaign released on Thursday. I have nothing original to say about it.

Glenn Greenwald has the long, analytical version of what’s wrong with Obama’s statement.

Paul Rosenberg has the short, funny version.

While Obama has disappointed progressives lately, you have to admit that his campaign is still sharp on the marketing side.  

DemConWatch reported on Thursday that Obama might accept the Democratic Party’s nomination on Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver. That venue can hold at least 70,000 people. The Pepsi Center where the rest of the Democratic National Convention will be held could only accommodate about 21,000.

DemConWatch reported yesterday that this looks like a done deal, despite the possible logistical problems.

How great will it be to have the Democratic nominee speak in a packed football stadium, while John McCain (not the darling of any GOP base constituency) gives a ho-hum speech in St. Paul? It will force the media to dwell endlessly on the enthusiasm gap between the Democrats and Republicans and on the charisma gap between Obama and McCain.

I love it.

Yes, McCain helped spread Bush's war propaganda

If we don’t want to see John McCain elected president, we need to chip away at his “maverick” image and demonstrate how he has marched in lockstep with the Bush White House.

This web video produced by the Democratic National Committee is a step in the right direction:

Help this video go viral by sending the link to friends, or putting it up on your blog if you have one. Alternatively, reward good behavior by making a donation to the DNC.

Credentialed bloggers send open letter to Howard Dean and the DNC

As I mentioned on Sunday, some high-quality state blogs did not receive credentials to cover the Democratic National Convention this summer in Denver.

Today 12 state blogs that did receive credentials have issued an open letter to Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee protesting the exclusion of some prominent blogs. Kos has the whole letter available at his blog if you click the link.

Much more background on the controversy is here. By allowing state parties to exclude politically inconvenient blogs, the DNC didn’t even follow the criteria it set up for the selection process. They need to deal with this snafu quickly.

What Hillary Wants

I was reading this post by Fmr. Clinton Labor Secretary (and current Obama supporter) Robert Reich that lays out three scenarios for why Hillary is staying in the race. Here are the condensed versions:

1. The Clintons still think they can win.

2. Hillary is positioning herself for a run in 2012 or 2016.

3. Hillary is looking for the best deal from Obama. (I would add the DNC to this deal-making)

Dr. Reich's analysis concludes that it's a mixture of all three, and I agree. I also agree that by this point, most of her motivation has to be coming from the second and third. With that in mind, I want to look at some very specific things she might be negotiating for.

Short Term Goals:

    1. Campaign Debt Relief

     Hillary is in hock by at least $21 million dollars, and she's written off millions of dollars in personal loans. Obama, on the other hand is sitting on over $200 million dollars and a massive donor list. While campaign finance laws mean that he can't simply write her a big Publishers' Clearinghouse sized check–he can fundraise for her and let her in on his donor list. And, as this LA Times article suggests, many Obama supporters would be glad to write Hillary a check if she buries the hatchet. Just as long as she doesn't bury it in Obama's back. 

    2. Seat the Michigan and Florida Delegates

    As Dr. Reich points out, this would be a huge moral victory for Hillary. It would also keep Michigan and Florida happy, avoiding a convention rules fight and sore feelings in the general election. If nothing else, it would allow Hillary the high note on which to end her campaign and change the media message, which otherwise dwell on her “failed campaign”. Not to mention that it would put her in good standing in those state should should she take a run in 2012 (God forbid) or 2016.

    3. A Hand in Choosing Obama's Vice-President

    If Hillary can't be Obama's vice-president (and it's looking like a remote possibility that she can), she more than likely wants to be in on the selection process. If she's positioning herself for a 2012 or 2016 run, she needs to keep her position as the preeminent female Democrat. Obviously it's going to make a political comeback down the road much more difficult if she has to square off against Vice President Kathleen Sebelius in 2016, (or VP candidate Sebelius in 2012). 

    My guess is, she would like to see a VP candidate who is sympathetic to her and appealing to her supporters, as well as (and this is key) someone who would make a backroom pledge to step aside in either 2012 or 2016 should Hillary want to run again.  Evan Bayh, Wes Clark, and Bill Richardson would all fit the bill nicely.


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Iowa Dems Should Fight for Penalties on Florida and Candidates Who Campaign There

With this post I’m likely to become a fairly unpopular member of the liberal blogosphere, or at least the segment of bloggers like Markos who take pride in bashing Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status.  But as I wrote about on Bleeding Heartland yesterday and today on Political Forecast, the South Carolina GOP’s decision to move up their primary has created huge problems in the national calendar for selecting a nominee for president–and this is the case in both parties.

Carrie Giddins, the IDP’s Communications Director, released this statement earlier today:

“The South Carolina Republicans won’t dictate what Iowa does. The Iowa Democratic Party, our Chairman and our State Central Committee, will make a decision regarding the date of our caucuses with Governor Chet Culver, Senator Tom Harkin and other political leaders that protects Iowa’s interests.

The Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for January 14th, 2008 and we are moving forward with plans for that date.

Iowa will hold the first in the nation caucuses.”

Carrie’s pretty direct, and having met with her before, she’s serious when she says that Iowa will hold the nation’s first caucus.  And I’ve got no doubt that she and others inside the Iowa Democratic Party are pissed with Katon Dawson and South Carolina Republicans.  I’m sure folks at the Republican Party of Iowa are just as pissed as well.

To the best of my knowledge, on August 25th the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will be meeting in Washington, DC, and will be debating whether or not to penalize Florida Democrats because of the decision by the Florida legislature to move their primary from February 5th to January 29th.  The penalty Florida faces is basically a preliminary wrist-slap that says “we won’t seat your delegates at the DNC Convention next August.”  The thing is, whomever has the nomination is going to demand Florida’s delegates be seated–for all practical purposes the nominee trumps the existing DNC chair and will dictate from that point on what will happen.

However, last August the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee hammered out their new rules which would again penalize state parties as mentioned above, but also penalize candidates who campaigned in early states.  From the DNC website:

“There is a new rule that imposes new sanctions on presidential candidates. If a state, any state, violates the rule on timing/the window, presidential candidates will face sanctions if they campaign in that state. Examples of campaigning include: making personal appearances in the state, hiring campaign workers, and buying advertising and so on.

Currently, the only punishment for states that violate the window was on State Parties. This new enforcement provision recognizes that presidential candidates must also bear a responsibility in enforcing the window or face sanctions.”

The window the DNC is talking about is that on or after February 5th, every other state besides Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina could hold their state’s caucus or primary (effectively declaring that Tuesday to be the official “Super Tuesday”).

So what I’m looking for on August 25th in DC is for Iowa’s Democratic representative on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, First Vice Chair Sarah Swisher, to stand up and demand that Florida get their slap on the wrist as well as get a statement from the committee reaffirming its commitment that should any candidate campaign in Florida that they should be penalized.

As the New York Times reported after the new rules were passed:

“The sanctions will be directed at candidates who campaign in any state that refuses to follow a 2008 calendar of primaries and caucuses that was also approved Saturday. Any candidate who campaigns in a state that does not abide by the new calendar will be stripped at the party convention of delegates won in that state.”

Coincidently enough, even if Iowa is forced to move our caucus date before the DNC scheduled date of January 14th, we’re still safe from sanctions because Iowa Democrats don’t actually select delegates to the DNC National Convention until the late spring or summer state convention.

So, essentially, Iowa can’t be punished for responding to Florida and the South Carolina GOP’s moves, but we should ask for strong punishments and statements from the DNC reaffirming Iowa’s position as first in the nation, at least for this cycle.

We’ve had a tried and true method that has worked and framed the start of the presidential campaign season for thirty years.  We must act to protect this tradition–and Iowa Democrats should expect the IDP and its leadership to fight hard for our status.

And as a quick note, if any of my dates or information are factually wrong, please let me know in the comments as soon as possible.

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